Alam Zeb Safi [The News]
KARACHI: National Bank got a walkover when former champions Army refused to take the field due to aerial firing outside the KPT Stadium for their match of the Pakistan Premier Football League here on Monday.
“Gun-firing stopped by 4:30pm — half an hour before the kick-off and there were playable conditions but Army’s management refused to field the team. As per the rules, I have given a walk-over to National Bank and have sent my report to the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF),” match-commissioner Shakoor Baloch told ‘The News’.
But Army manager Major Shafqat said that the conditions were not favourable and the security of his players was more important to him than the match.
“There was intense firing outside the venue. It is an open stadium and there was every chance that the bullets which also hit the houses in the surrounding areas could have harmed the players. So I’ve submitted my written statement with the match-commissioner and also sent a copy to the PFF as the players is more important than the match,” Major Shafqat told this correspondent.
“We had come a long way from Malir to play the game. But the security concerns forced us to withdraw altogether. The match should have been postponed as it could have been held later, even in Rawalpindi. If I feel that there is security a risk, then Army will not play their matches here.”
A senior official of the PFF said that the match-commissioner is the sole authority and his decision will be given due consideration.
National Bank went top with nine points from three matches while Army have at four points from four games.
Meanwhile, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) overwhelmed Navy 2-1 to take their points to six from two meetings here at the Peoples Sports Complex.
Navy have just one point from four appearances. Mohammad Ramzan opened the scoring for Navy with a penalty in the 16th minute. But PIA fought back with an equaliser through a goal from prolific international striker Shakir Lashari in the 40th before skipper Nasrullah struck the winner in injury-time.
Earlier, Navy were also caught in firing at the Maripur Road while on their way to the venue. The match-commissioner told them that they could go back but they showed courage and reached the stadium a bit late which also forced the match-commissioner to start the game 15 minutes late.
In another match at the Sadiq Shaheed Stadium in Quetta, Baloch FC held Faisalabad’s PMC Athletico to a goalless draw to stretch their points to two from three meetings while PMC are yet to open their account from four games.
Today’s fixtures: Police v WAPDA (Sadiq Shaheed Stadium, Quetta), Afghan FC v KRL (Sadiq Shaheed Stadium, Quetta), HBL v PAF (Peoples Football Stadium, Karachi), PEL v PMC Athletico (Sadiq Shaheed Stadium, Quetta)